Local Turtle Week

Local Turtle Week is back from Friday, August 27th to September 2nd #LocalTurtleWeek

Our Annual turtle release event can’t be held in person during the pandemic but from August 27th to September 2nd we are sharing a week of online activities including photos, videos of hatchlings, and education about habitat needed for turtles. Local Turtle Week is held in partnership with the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority.

First, and one of the most important, is habitat loss and fragmentation. Without wetlands and natural areas our local turtles have no home, and no way of surviving in the altered landscape that now dominates southern Ontario. Originally, southern Ontario was a mosaic of wetlands, forests, and natural meadows. Now only pockets of these natural habitats remain amongst the vast stretches of agricultural land, residential areas, and towns. See our future Turtle Week post specifically on wetlands!

To connect our new man-made landscape, humans also made dense networks of roads. Roads and cars are one of the biggest threats to turtles. Unfortunately, turtles are also attracted to these roads as gravel shoulders present perfect conditions for nesting. There are many ways to help turtles against the threat of roads, such as: If you see a turtle crossing the road, consider helping it cross in the direction it's heading when it's safe to do so. Roadside nests are also perfect candidates for incubation, please give Huron Stewardship Council a call if you find a turtle nesting on a road. If you find a turtle injured by a car, consider calling the Ontario Turtle Conservation Center to arrange a turtle taxi to save the turtle.

The last threat we will talk about is high meso-predator populations and nest predation. Our new man-made environment has helped supplement populations of predators such as raccoons and foxes which dig up and eat turtle eggs. Without nest protection with cages, many nests will be predated by raccoons and foxes. Although this is natural, the frequency that it occurs is not as humans have helped create very large populations of raccoons. If you want to help protect turtle nests from predators on your property you can make (or buy) nest cages to protect the nest. You can also help reduce the raccoon population around your property by reducing access to human food by using locking garbage containers and compost bins. Everyone can help turtles against the threats they face. Humans have caused these threats, it's only right that we help.

For kids! Learn more from 'Turtle Guardians' in this short video

  • Buffers of vegetation around the wetland including native plants and shrubs
  • Aquatic vegetation like water lilies and cattails
  • Basking areas such as floating logs or boards
  • Sandy, sunny areas for nesting
  • High water quality without pesticides or chemicals

Have a look around for these turtle habitat features the next time you visit Morrison Dam Conservation Area. It’s even possible to build brand new wetlands, and grants may be available to support this type of work. You can also visit the Huronview Demo Farm just south of Clinton to see a four-acre wetland built on former agricultural land through an ABCA, Huron County, and the Huron Soil and Crop Improvement Association partnership. Wetland restoration projects such as this one are an excellent way to benefit many species, reduce flood risk, and improve water quality.

Day 7: Release

At last, our Local Turtle Week has come to the moment for which we’ve all been waiting ... to see the hatchlings released back to the wetlands near where their eggs were originally laid. These hatchlings have overcome one of the biggest hurdles of being a turtle but they still have a long way to go. Depending on the species these turtles could need to live another 20 years before they can lay eggs of their own! Although many of these hatchlings will not survive, they have a much higher chance now that we’ve helped protect them as eggs and ensured they made it to the water. As small young turtles they will rarely venture far from the water as they are prey to nearly everything. Although they’re on their own now, we can still do our part to help them by protecting their wetland homes. Hopefully with our help they will live long enough to lay eggs of their own.

Meet The Turtle Team

Marcus Maddalena, Biologist / Stewardship Coordinator

Meet Marcus Maddalena, Biologist and Stewardship Coordinator with the County of Huron. Marcus introduces us to Local Turtle Week, which returns in 2021 and runs from August 27 to September 2.

Cristen Watt, Fieldwork Coordinator / SAR Technician

Meet Cristen Watt, of Huron Stewardship Council. Cristen tells of their work and the need to preserve and enhance habitat such as wetlands that turtles need to survive.

Cory Trowbridge, SAR Technician

Meet Cory Trowbridge, Species at Risk Technician with Huron Stewardship Council. Cory tells us about himself, challenges in his work, and why it helps to learn the eight different species of Ontario freshwater turtles.